Seirei Densetsu Lickle, or as its better known, Little Samson, was released for the NES in 1992 by publisher Taito, best known for hit arcade titles like Space Invaders and Bubble Bobble. It was one of those games that, despite being chock-full of content and surprisingly well polished, just never took off in the US market. On one hand it’s saddening to see such a good game so lacking in recognition, but on the other hand I’m almost glad it didn’t become widely known by the US rebranding. I mean, look at this shit:
Little Samson? Really? It was so cute and novel before, why’d they have to go and turn it into this? I understand targeting it more towards an American audience, but here it seems like they just made it more generic and less stylish. They even changed Lickle’s vest color, which was still green in-game. I always wonder about how that type of thing happens,and honestly I think I might have a good idea of it.
While I can hardly excuse the American name and box art, what I can do is look on the brighter side: the INside. Let’s take a peek.
The game begins with a king sending off some soldiers to some seemingly urgent mission. Will they slay a dragon and save the royal heir, or maybe ward off a horde of vicious bandits from a nearby village?
No. No, they’ll just get fucked by this guy. That’s where you come in.
You assemble a band of misfits and then switch freely between them on a journey to the evil wizard’s liar, where he sits patiently browsing Facebook and awaits your arrival. Each hero has different strength and weaknesses, though I found myself gravitating most towards the dragon, who was tankier than Samson, could fly for a limited time, and fired off curved shots which allowed me to hit enemies at weird angles. This only downside of the dragon was that, unlike Samson, he could not climb walls; that sometimes proved necessary. The Golem had the most health and the most powerful attack, but had limited range, was slow, and couldn’t jump high. The mouse, named K.O., was very easy to kill, but could run on walls, place bombs, and go through small spaces. Its main use was discovering secrets and retrieving otherwise unreachable items. Once you went through a short and easy level with each of these four, you were taken to the main overworld.
Oh, I’m sorry, am I playing Skyrim? Because I swear I’m looking at Skyrim. The overworld just screams adventure, and despite seeming to have just 5 levels, it’s not a straight line — you bee-line all around the map in a relentless massacre of all that breaths and moves. The visuals caught me off-guard at first, and I almost forgot that past the introductory levels, this game really gets NES-hard. Though easier than the likes of Kid Icarus and Castlevania, it was still the type of game where you die so much that you practically learn to do some parts with your eyes closed. Luckily it was similar to Megaman in that, if you had extra lives and died to the boss, you would restart right at the boss battle. I couldn’t imagine playing it otherwise, because the bosses in this game don’t screw around. Here’s me half a second from dying to one.
Oh yeah, that’s actually the first one. You won’t be needing any DLC to put 500 hours into this game, I assure you. Overall, the game is just a very well executed platformer with detailed visuals, smooth animation, and generally entertaining level and enemy design. The developers clearly did very well in working around the limitations of the NES. I would highly recommend giving this hidden gem a go if you can find it!